Count the Dots: Binary Numbers

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Data in computers is stored and transmitted as a series of zeros and ones. Learners explore how to represent numbers using just these two symbols, through a binary system of cards. When the card's dots are showing, its value is 1 and the dots are counted. When the card's dots are not showing, its value is 0 and the dots are not counted. Learners model binary counting to discover patterns and represent numbers. This activity includes three worksheet activities (1 introductory and 2 extensions) for learners to complete and background information for the instructor.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per student)

  • for class: 1 large set of 5 binary cards on cardstock paper, 8.5"x11"
  • set of 5 binary cards on cardstock paper, one 8.5"x11" sheet makes 4 sets
  • copy of Worksheet Activity: Binary Numbers, p9
  • (for extension) copy of Worksheet Activity: Working with Binary, p10
  • (for extension) copy of Worksheet Activity: Counting Higher than 31, p11


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Technology
      • Information and Communication
  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
      • Patterns
    • Number and Operations
      • Number Systems
    • Representation

Informal Categories

  • Computers


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • , ,

Funding Source:

  • Google, Inc.